Frequently Asked Questions about Barge Cruising
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What is included in an all-inclusive luxury barge cruise?
- Transportation between the barge and designated meeting point. For barges close to Paris, most barges pick up and return guests to Paris.
- Six nights accommodation with ensuite private bathroom
- All meals and wines
- Open bar with alcoholic and soft beverages
- Guided excursions and entrance fees
- All amenities of barge including bicycles, library, music, games, etc. Many deluxe and ultra-deluxe barges have hot tubs on deck.
What is not included in an all-inclusive luxury barge cruise?
- Air or other transportation to the designated meeting location in France or Europe
- Travel insurance
- Items of a personal nature
- Optional and discretionary crew gratuity, typically 5-10% given to the Captain in euros at the end of the cruise
What is a Half Board Cruise?
Would you enjoy taking some meals in local restaurants? These barges offer a variety of meal plans called half board, 3/4 board and/or full board. Half board reduces the barge price, and is a fun way to explore some of the local restaurants and villages. The barge crew will help you with your restaurant choices and provide transportation. Please refer to the individual itineraries for details:
- Bonheur (4) Charming Class - Southern Burgundy - 3 dinners on shore at guests' expense
- Caroline (4-6) Charming Class - Canal du Midi - 2-3 meals on shore at guests' expense
- Esperance (4-6) Deluxe - Canal du Midi - full board or half board with 4 dinners on shore at guests' expense
- Johanna (4-6) Charming Class - Champagne, Upper Loire, Belgium - 3/4 or full board meal plans
- Libje (4) Charming Class - Brittany - 3 dinners on shore at guests' expense
- Magnolia (2-6) Charming Class - Southern Burgundy - full board or half board with 3 dinners and 1 lunch on shore at guests' expense
- Randle (4) Charming Class - Nivernais Canal in Northern Burgundy - full board or half board with 6 dinners on shore at guests' expense
- Savoir Vivre (6-8) - Charming Class - Southern Burgundy - 6 dinners with wine on shore included in the price
Where do I meet the barge?
At a designated meeting place which differs with each barge and possibly the direction of the cruise. Check the individual itineraries for more information. Most barges located close to Paris pick you up and bring you back to Paris by private motor coach or escorted rail transfer.
Can you recommend hotels in Paris?
We provide a Trip Information Kit with recommended Paris hotels. We are happy to book for you or you can book directly.
Can I pay for my barge cruise with a credit card?
In most cases, yes. Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted. American Express is accepted by some. There may be a limit on how much of the barge cost can be charged. Please inquire for details on each barge.
What is the best way to get Euros?
We have found the ATM's to be the most convenient and economical. They are widely available. Be sure to bring your 4-digit pin code, and confirm with your bank that your ATM card will work internationally. Keep in mind that you will be charged a service fee each time, so it's wise to take out what you will need for a few days. The barge crew will know where the most convenient ATM's are located. In a pinch, you can use a credit card to get cash, but remember you are charged interest from receipt of the money until you pay it off in full.
Should I bring traveler's checks?
In a word - NO! Traveler's Checks are becoming more and more difficult to use. Stores, hotels, restaurants and local banks are not able to cash them. Even banks in larger towns are refusing them. Do not count on using traveler's checks. They are becoming a thing of the past
Is there laundry service on board?
Generally not. It would overload the barge's systems if they started doing laundry for everyone. There are a few exceptions such as La Nouvelle Etoile and Le Phenicien. We recommend that you bring what you need for the week and wash by hand the few things you must. Remember that a barge cruise is casual, and a lot of clothing is not necessary.
Is WiFi and internet access available on barge cruises?
WiFi and email access on board are becoming more common on the barges though internet service is not always available in the countryside. We recommend bringing your own "smart phone" if you need to stay in touch. Be sure you contact your server before leaving to add an international plan.
Is there a telephone on board?
The barge crew has a cell phone which is used for emergencies only. If you need to make phone calls while traveling, we recommend bringing your "smart phone" with an international data plan. You can also make calls when WiFi is available with apps such as Skype, Facetime, Vibor and MagicJack.
I have special dietary needs. Can the chef accommodate me?
Yes, we provide a pre-cruise questionnaire where you can itemize your dietary needs. The chef will gladly accommodate vegetarians, allergies, and the like. If you have extraordinary needs, please inform us at the time of booking so we can confirm their availability. You may also request your favorite beverages including alcohols.
What if I have a medical emergency during the cruise?
Medical assistance in France is excellent. The crew will call the medics, take you to the hospital or do whatever is necessary to provide you with the care needed. We recommend the purchase of travel insurance including emergency medical coverage and evacuation. For more information, please contact us.
What should I pack for my barge cruise?
Barge cruising is casual so bring comfortable clothing with flat shoes preferred for the deck. If you think resort casual, you'll be fine. If you like walking or biking, bring tennis shoes. We recommend that you bring clothing you can layer to bundle up for colder or rainy days and lighten up for hot days. Weather is unpredictable so be sure to bring a rain jacket or umbrella. A suggested packing list will be provided with your booking. Luggage storage is limited with one suitcase and one carryon requested for most barges.
The brochures say the captain's dinner is dressy. Do I have to dress up?
Many passengers do dress up a bit for the last night's dinner, especially on the more deluxe barges, but it is not required. If you are chartering a barge, it is entirely up to your group's preferences. If you are on a hotel barge with other passengers, you may want to bring a slightly dressier outfit for the last dinner. But remember to keep your packing simple and light. A jacket and tie are not needed unless you go to finer restaurants on shore.
Why should we go on an all-inclusive barge cruise rather than a self-drive canal boat which is less expensive?
As one of our clients said: "When we all first discussed the idea of a barge trip, I was in favor of chartering a self-drive boat and was against the idea of a luxury barge. This was partly because of the huge difference in cost, but also because I am the kind of person who likes to do things himself. However, having done the trip on Esperance, I am glad that my friends convinced me. If we had done it ourselves, we would not have learned about the history, we would not have had the great excursions, we would not have had Olivier's great cooking and we would not have had the pleasure of meeting Mathias. Despite the expense, we received great value." Allen S. 2012.
Is the crew gratuity included in the price?This is the one item that is not included and is a discretionary amount based on your satisfaction with the service received on board.
How much shall we tip the crew?People often ask me about the crew gratuity which is greatly appreciated if you are happy with the service. Typically, it is 5-10% of the cruise price given to the Captain in Euros at the end of the cruise. Your tour guide can direct you to ATM machines to withdraw Euros, if necessary.